97641 spartan senior news 2011 april.pmd
A newsletter for Michigan State University Retirees
LANSING AREA LOCAL EDITION April 2011
MSURA Annual Meeting
MSURA Annual Meeting & Volunteer Award Luncheon
Monday, May 9, 2011, Kellogg Center Big Ten Room C
MICHAEL PATRICK SHIEL HEADLINES MAY BANQUET
Author, Producer, Golfing, Celebrity Cozier & Advisor at the Kellogg
Wow, what a treat awaits MSU retirees at noon on the 9th of May. Shiels was thelast producer for the J.P. McCarthy morning show on WJR-Detroit and produced atribute CD for J.P. that raised $500,000 for leukemia research. He has writtenwidely on a number of subjects, including golf course architecture and architects;on playing that fractious game (Golf's Short Game for Dummies); his travelarticles have been published in a number of magazines (Golf Digest, BusinessTraveler and others); and he has produced TV segments for ESPN, Golf Network,USA Network & CBS Sports. He even has a book out that tells you how to cozy up
with important people (in case you have that in your "bucket list").
Fill out the form below and send your check to Bob Wenner. Last year well over 100 of us gathered to hearMSU's own Gordon Guyer. Let's see if we can top that number this year.
Monday, May 9, 2011, 11:30 a.m.
Kellogg Center, Big Ten Room C
CHICKEN MARSALA, GREEN SALAD, RICE PILAF, ROLLS AND BEVERAGE, NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE Cost $17.00 per person (includes tax, gratuity & free parking)
Please hold reservations for: Number:
If dietary supplement is needed, please call Total :
Kay Butcher at 882-3534 before May 1.
Clip and Mail this form with check payable to MSU Retirees Association BEFORE MAY 1st
to Bob Wenner, MSURA Treasurer, P.O. Box 203, Okemos, MI 48805
MSU RETIREES ASSOCIATION
SPARTAN SENIOR Page 2
Officers and Board for 2010-2011
Editor's Swan Song
I have read that the term Swan Song comes from a
legend that the Mute Swan vocalizes only once in its
life, and that cry comes plaintively and beautifully from
its throat at the moment of death. Although I have
reached octogenarianhood, I have no premonition of
my imminent death, but I do think it time to retire from
a job I have held for the past seven years. So this is my beautiful cry, as I thank
Offic Mgr Kay Butcher
all you folks who have given back good words for the work Steffe Barch and I
Offic Asst Joan Smith
have completed. It is also plaintive, since as of writing no one has stepped up
Offic Asst John Roetman
to take this old geezer's place (is the geezer an aging swan?) . (Fred Gra-
Spec Proj Rosemary Pavlik
Health Info Marilyn Rothert
April 11 Meeting features Radio Services
Membership Nancy Craig
Membership Velmer Oakley
Computer Mgr John Forsyth
When your editor retired from teaching he began to volunteer
United Way Darlene Wenner
as a reader for what was called the Radio Talking Book.
Several times per week I would read aloud from local and
Spartan Senior Newsletter Editors
regional newspapers to folks who were visually impaired and
InternatlLocal W. Fred Graham
were given small radios that tuned to our frequency. A family
MSU ReporterProduction Stephanie Barch
medical emergency drew me away from that enjoyable bit of
volunteering. Sometime in the last decade the title has
Webmasters Patrick Scheetz
changed (we never read books…that's what Dick Estell does five mornings a
week on WKAR's AM station) and we now have Radio Reading Services
directed by Brad Walker, and Broadcasting Services chaired by Susi
Elkins.You can hear them and ask questions on Monday, April 11. Come to
the new MSU Credit Union Building out in the tundra on Coolidge Rd. Donutsat 1:30, program at 2:00.
Coach Fossum on "Passion"
SCHEETZ & SMITH TO RUN FOR
Faithful readers may remember that MSURA president
Patrick Scheetz made a call for stories of passion and
Confident of re-election and obedient to
joy in retirement. Bruce Fossum, the eternal tennis
the nominating committee, Patrick
coach, sent in the following: Dear Patrick: I read your
Scheetz has agreed to run again for
editorial and thought I would respond. As you and
President of our association, with Ron
many others know, I have been teaching classes and
Smith again his running mate. Election
individual lessons since my retirement in 1990 (as
will be held at the May banquet. The
Head Golf Coach at MSU). I do this at FunTyme Golf
rest of the roster:
Dome in Okemos in the winter months and at MSU in the nice weather.
Since the "Dome" opened 12 years ago I have given free Senior clinics every
Past President Gale Arent
Monday morning at 9:00 AM. We just had 50 people at our most recent
meeting. I still get excited teaching and sharing golf stuff and as long as my
Member-at-Large Stan Hecker
health holds up, I will continue to do this. Sincerely, Bruce.
President Patrick sent Bruce back a thank-you, warned that he would be
Officers continuing in their
asking for another golf lesson, and opined that if more retirees would follow
current positions are Bob Wenner,
their passions, more would be happy with their lives after their working
Treasurer, and Gordon Williams,
Thanks to Sara Stid who has
served a term as Secretary, and MarthaDavidson a term as Member-at-Large.
Bob Wenner on More Golf
Nominations to any position
BOB, our trusty treasurer asks the following question: are you aware that
(except Past President!) may be made
there is a faculty/staff golf club open to both current faculty/staff and retirees?
from the floor at the May banquet.
We play on Saturday throughout the year. (Mostly likely skipping November
thru March? Ed.) You do not have to play every Saturday but only those you
want to. If you would like to join, please contact Bob Wenner at 339-1685.
LANSING LOCAL EDITION Page 3
VICE PRESIDENT BRENT BOWDITCH BRINGS GOOD NEWS
HEALTH BENEFITS TALK CHEERS A CROWDED ROOM
A somewhat tense crowd of retirees filled the community room at the Credit Union on March 14 waiting tohear what health benefits changes the U was planning for the new fiscal year, beginning July 1. ("Thereare more of us than even Coach Suzy Merchant brought out!" exclaimed our VP Ron Smith.) Your editorwill try to present highlights of Brent's talk as well as comments by Renee Rivard, Benefits Director. Mynotes and Brent's outline will be our guide. In the April Source you will find all of this spelled out (withoutbackground information) as you re-enroll for the new year.
He began by summarizing MSU's financial challenges, as the State (beginning in 2002) began to cut itsappropriations to Michigan universities. It is likely that cuts of about 1.5% per year will leap to a 15% cutfor the coming year. Check out the website www.shapingthefuture.msu.edu to see how the U's planningeffort, "Shaping the Future," is working thru this drastic cut in funding.
The U's budget for healthcare is $114 million, and retiree health care is $25.5 million of that. Nationally,health care costs go up 8% per year, which would mean adding $9 million more to the U's expenditure.
The aim is to allow our expenses to rise no more than 3% per year. Amazingly (to your editor), last year'schanges reduced the cost by 10% and it looks like the present year's cost will be $1 to $2 million lessthan budgeted, which means no raise in retirees' expenses!
Last year we reduced costs dramatically with the Generic Prescribing Program, its main thrust beingchoosing generic drugs over brand names. Lipitor, a brand name cholesterol-lowering drug, costs $3per pill, compared to 25 cents for a generic version. The U spent $528,910 for Lipitor in 2008-2009, andonly $14,464 last year. Overall this program saved MSU $3.4 million in health care costs last year.
Changes coming in July 2011
1. Generic Prescribing Program additions. Three additional classes of drugs will be added, requiring
us to use generics, when available, or else we pay the cost difference between the brand drug and the
same-class generic. These classes include migraine medications, blood pressure drugs (ARBS and
ACES), and acne antibiotics. Many retirees are already taking generic blood pressure drugs. About 60
folks will be affected by these changes. This will save the U about $463,000. Remember that, like our
speaker himself(!), you can appeal against your change to a generic if your physician agrees.
2. Limiting "Specialty Drugs" to 30-Day Supplies. Last summer a 90-day drug was filled at a cost to
the U of $100,000; two weeks later the dose was changed and the original prescription had to be thrown
away! Specialty drugs (bio-tech drugs) are used to treat conditions like hemophilia, multiple sclerosis,
rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis C, and some cancers, and the average cost of a prescription is $2,500.
Limiting scripts to 30 days means fewer doses will be trashed. (Nope, you can't recycle drugs, unfortu-
3. Use of CVS/Caremark Specialty Pharmacy for specialty drug prescriptions. Beginning on July
1, all these specialty drug scripts must be filled thru CVS/Caremark Specialty Pharmacy. Retail pharma-
cies do not usually stock specialty drugs and pharmacists may be less familiar with drugs they seldom
handle. CVS/Caremark Specialty Pharmacy can deliver them to your home within 24 hours. And be-
cause they are purchased in such large quantities, they can buy these expensive drugs at much lower
cost. 408 persons will be affected by this change, saving $391,000.
SPARTAN SENIOR Page 4
Brent Bowditch cont.
4. Exclusion of Non-Sedating Antihistamines (NSAs). Because many of the drugs used to treat hay
fever and other allergies are now available over the counter (such as Claritin, Alegra, and Zyrtec), they
will no longer be covered, beginning July 1. A few NSA scripts like Clarinex and Xyzal still require a
prescription, but there is no evidence that they work better than the OTC alternatives. And usually buying
over the counter is cheaper than paying for a visit to the doctor to get a script and then paying the copay.
This change will affect about 400 people at a cost savings of $385,000.
Lowest Cost Plans for 2011-12 Plan Year. The lowest cost plans for MSU retirees for the coming
year are as follows:
o For retirees over 65 with Medicare, the traditional Blue Cross Blue Shield plan will
remain the low cost plan.
o For retirees in mixed Medicare and non-Medicare households BCBS Transition will
remain the lowest cost plan.
o BCN will again be the lowest cost plan for retirees under age 65 without Medicare.
As in the past, retirees under the age of 65 without Medicare also will have the option of selecting theCommunity Blue PPO at rates that will be identified in the open enrollment materials we will receive inmid-April.
Other Changes the Future May Hold
These changes will result in savings, but it is important to continue looking for additional ways to cut
costs while protecting the quality of our health care benefits. Here are some ideas for the future.
Patient Advocacy Programs. These are programs that help you make the best decisions
regarding your healthcare. Two programs being considered include Best Doctors and Acco-
lade. Best Doctors is a 2nd opinion service the U hopes to make available to people facing
serious conditions with complex treatment options. We know that 20% of patients get the wrong
diagnosis, 50% get the wrong treatment based on best evidence, and 30 cents of every dollar is
spent on treatment that does not help. So getting good 2nd opinions makes sense. Best Doc-
tors would give us free access to 2nd opinions from nationally recognized medical experts in
various fields. These opinions would be based on a review of charts, test results and records
and not in-person visits.
A second patient advocacy service being considered is Accolade. This could potentially be-
come the customer service call center for all MSU health plans and would provide a higher level
of service than currently available thru the various health plans. Each person would have a
specific Accolade Health Assistant assigned to you to be your advocate. You could call on them
anytime to help you with issues such as resolving claims problems, understanding your benefits,
finding a doctor, choosing the right treatment options, and more. Their services would be free
and offer you help navigating the often complex issues surrounding treatment.
On-site health clinic options. The U is exploring the possibility of a nearby or on-campus
health clinic funded by MSU where we could seek quick care for urgent but non-emergency and
non-chronic issues such as colds, minor injuries and illnesses. Fewer emergency room visits for
non-emergencies would save a ton of money.
(cont. on Page 6)
LANSING LOCAL EDITION Page 5
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MSU RETIREES ASSOCIATION
22 NISBET BUILDING
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
EAST LANSING, MI 48823
FORWARDING SERVICE REQUESTED
(Brent Bowditch cont. from Page 4)
Integrated Services for Chronic Illness Sufferers. Some folks need more help than others: they
are sicker or need special help with chronic conditions. A pilot program would pay physicians to spend
more time with such patients, giving them the time to educate and counsel their clients, leading to a
healthier population and reduced costs in the long run. If the pilot program,
beginning in 2012, is successful, it could be extended to more physician
Brent and Renee finished by responding to many questions and with assurancesthat our problems can be taken to our Human Resources folk by calling 800-353-4434 or going to email at [email protected]. As we finished, retiree Marjorie Porterspoke for all of us by saying that she had come to the meeting apprehensive butcame away thankful for the way retirees are treated by our former employer, MSU.
A Phenomenal Thing
Spring is almost here and a phenomenal thing is about to happen. The crocuses and daffodils will, with theirweak sprouts, start an arduous climb through the hard packed earth to reach the warmth of the sun _ _ and noone will even cheer. All around us wondrous things are happening and who really is watching or seeing or evencaring?Along with all the great things come sad things. We have to watch earthquakes, tsunamis, fires wipe outvillages and devastate the lives of honest hard working people around the world. Even though we would like tohelp them all, we know we can't, but we can help those who are close to home. The knitting group is doing itsbest to assist those hard hit by the economic times and it truly is a challenge. We need a lot of hands and yarnto assist the cause.
If you would like to help, we do have some empty chairs just waiting for you. We meet every other Tuesday from1:00-4:00p.m. in room 27 in the basement of the Nisbet Building. If interested just give Rosemary Pavlik a callat (517)882-2030.
SPARTAN SENIOR CITIZEN Lansing Area Local Edition, MSU Retirees Association, 22 Nisbet Building, MSU, 1407 S. Harrison
East Lansing, MI 48823. Tel (517) 353-7896. e-mail: [email protected].
Editor Fred Graham (332-6184); Production Stephanie Barch .
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